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Constipation

Chronic constipation is described as having less than three and difficult bowel movements in a week. It is characterized by excessive straining, hard stools and pain during bowel movement.

What Are the Symptoms of Constipation?

Constipation can occur occasionally to everyone due to eating and lifestyle habits but if a patient experiences two or more of the following symptoms for the last three months, it can be considered as chronic constipation:

  • Few and difficult bowel movements
  • Passing less than 3 stools in a week
  • Lumpy or hard stools
  • Straining to have a bowel movement
  • A sense that stomach did not clear completely
  • Feeling of rectum blockage
  • Swollen abdomen or abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Needing help like pressing or using finger to empty rectum
Causes of Constipation

Constipation usually occurs when waste or stool moves too slowly through the digestive tract, causing it to become hard and dry. Constipation is most often caused duediet and lifestyle habits like:

  • Low-fiber diet
  • Eating a lot of dairy products.
  • Eating disorders
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Delay in going to the bathroom on urge to move bowels
  • Stress
  • Frequent travelling

Other than these, there are certain diseases in which constipation is a symptom. The diseases include:

  • Colon cancer
  • Diseases of the bowel, like irritable bowel syndrome
  • Mental health disorders
  • Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis
  • Disorders of the nerves and muscles in the digestive system
  • Pregnancy
  • Blockage in colon or rectum
  • Underactive thyroid
  • Diabetes
  • Overactive parathyroid gland
  • Use of certain medications
How Do Doctors Diagnose It?

Doctors takes the complete bowel, dietary and lifestyle history of the patient followed by physical examination to evaluate the cause of constipation. He may further prescribecertain tests to find the cause of constipation like:

  • Blood tests
  • Barium X-ray
  • Colonoscopy
  • Anorectal manometry
  • Barium enema
  • Proctosigmoidoscopy
  • Stool studies
  • Upper GI series
  • Colonic transit study
  • X-rays of the abdomen
  • Defecography
Treatment for Constipation

In general, dietary and lifestyle habits majorly relieve the patient suffering from constipation. But other than these, if it is not cured and disturbs the quality of life of the patient, it becomes necessary to treat the underlying cause of constipation by:

  • Mild over-the-counter stool?? softener
  • Enemas
  • Medications to draw water into intestines
  • Surgery